Monday, December 18, 2017

We Must Learn Who We Are In Christ

Therefore, brothers and sister, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

     My earliest memories aren't pleasant. I remember a lot of feelings of inadequacy, being outcast, ridiculed. I remember being called fatso, tubby, and lard-##s. I guess I was just a fat kid. 
     Memories are funny things. The painful ones tend to stand out far more than the pleasant ones. Sometimes they stand out so loudly and for so long that we forget the pleasant memories. So, I'm not a big believer in my memories, but I do remember some painful things.
     Well, not long ago I was looking through some childhood pictures. As I thumbed through several pictures of myself, I was shocked. I wasn't skinny, but I definitely wasn't obese. All these years, I've felt fat. Today, sadly, I am, but I wondered how long I had believed what others had said about me and how that shaped my life.
     What we believe determines what we do. If we think we're basically good apart from God, we will never see that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Once forgiven, once we believe in Christ, we still believe much of what we did before God redeemed us. There's a process we have to go through if we're going to believe what God says about us and live that out. 
     What would happen if every man believed what God said about him? What if he believed what God said about the value and worth of women? How would he treat women? Certainly not like many men treat women. He would never treat a woman as an object to be used or abused. What would happen if every woman believed what God said about her? How would she view her value and worth? Certainly it would not be in her external beauty. It would be in her internal worth. Wouldn't that encourage her to never allow a man, or woman, to devalue her personally, intellectually or sexually. And, when things were said against her, wouldn't that strengthen her to withstand them emotionally and even physically.
     What would happen if parents spent their parenting years teaching their children their identity in Christ? Wouldn't a child be less likely to bully another if she understood her worth and the worth of the other child in Christ? If your child understood his or her worth in the eyes of God, and believed that worth, wouldn't that insulate him or her against the abusive words of others? 
     That's what I've been thinking about lately What if I had known who I was in Christ, and believed that, when I was a child? How would that have changed how I treated other kids? We used to sit around and see how insulting we could be to one another. It was a game we played, a hurtful game. If I had known and believed who I was in Christ, how would it have changed how I felt about the things that were said about me and done to me? How would it have changed the way I treated others?
     We must learn the truth about ourselves, and about God, and we must imbed it in our souls. It will transform more than our moral behavior. It will transform our identities. His truth will transform our lives. We must teach it to one another, especially to our children. They must learn more than just moral behavior, more than just "don't bully." They must also learn that the value of a person is greater than just being the pinnacle of evolution. They must learn that they are the pinnacle of God's Creation created in His image, a living soul because of His breath. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sometimes The Brightest Light Lies

All that is gold does not glitter.
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship Of The Ring

As I made my way to town for an early meeting with our elders, I noticed four lights. The first was the spotlight illuminating the welcome sign for our town. It appeared the brightest. The second was the crescent moon. The third was the bright star below the moon, halfway between it and the horizon. The final star is barely visible to the right of the moon.

The lightbulbs in the sign were blinding. The moon was bright. The star to the left, while not as brilliant as the moon, was still apparent. Actually it was not a star at all. It was the planet Venus, often called the Morning or Evening Star. The tiny dim star to the right of the moon was not a single star, but a system of three stars that appear as one to the naked eye because of their distance.  

It struck me how my perception of the brightness of each object had nothing to do with the actual brightness of each. The lights on the sign appeared the brightest, but weren't. The reflected sunlight of the moon is far brighter, and that of Venus would be even greater if the moon and Venus were both the same distance from the earth. The dimmest object to me was actually the brightest - three suns far outshine all the others.  

My perception of the brightness of each object had absolutely nothing to do with reality. It had everything to do with my proximity. The spotlights were only the brightest to me because they were the closest.

If anything in your life shines brighter than God, it is only because of your distance from Him and your nearness to whatever or whoever it is you perceive to be brighter.